I think that waiting is the hardest part of gardening. In the winter, I pore over seed catalogues and make my selections, waiting for the right time to get out my peat pots and set up my basement "greenhouse."
Once those tiny seeds are nestled into their little pots under the fluorescent lights, I wait to see little dots of green appear, all the while counting down the days and weeks until winter's end.
The waiting isn't over once the plants make their way into the garden. I wait and see if the seedlings are going to thrive or shrivel in their new locations, and then the wait begins again as the plants grow and start to flower.
Camouflaged by leaves, this habanera pepper ripened unnoticed by me — I was busy looking for ripe tomatoes instead.
Not long after flowers, tiny, baby vegetables start to appear, and I wait and water and watch them grow.
But the part that comes next, where I'm waiting for my vegetables to ripen, might be the worst wait of all. That's where my garden is at right now. My tomato plants are full of small, green tomatoes that are taking their good, sweet time to turn red. Meanwhile, my mom has giant tomatoes on her plants, and one of my neighbors has beautiful ripe tomatoes taunting me from two doors away.
However, the thick foliage of my pepper plants has concealed hidden treasure. While I've been impatiently watching my tomato plants for signs of progress, the first peppers in my garden have been flourishing right under my nose. I have already harvested a couple of green peppers, and my husband Jim is planning on picking some of his habaneras in a day or so.
Though I've lamented the state of my pepper plants in previous columns, I probably had overly high expectations. Last year, we had a bumper crop of peppers, especially the hot peppers that I planted for Jim. As a lover of all things spicy, he was in seventh heaven for most of the summer. I don't know what I did or didn't do last year to cause our prolific pepper production, but this year's smaller but more manageable crop is probably a more realistic outcome.
But there's still a lot of summer left, and there are still flowers on the pepper plants, so we'll see how things turn out.
In the meantime, I still have an eye on those green tomatoes.
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